Chinese villagers near site of truck blast that killed 23 people say their air is good and their weather is fine
- Environmental monitors at Zhangjiakou say air quality good to excellent
- Lethal blast comes in midst of three-year chemical handling review
Air quality appears to be healthy and life goes on as usual for people who live in the vicinity of a chemical plant in northern Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, a day after an explosion killed 23 people there.
The blast on a lorry carrying acetylene engulfed 38 trucks and 12 smaller vehicles lined up outside Shenghua chemical plant on Wednesday morning.
Twenty-two people, including one child who is being treated in Beijing Children’s Hospital, were injured. Authorities evacuated villages around the plant as a safety precaution.
A woman who identified herself by the family name Sun and who lives in Beiganzhuang village in Xuanhua district, a kilometre from the plant, said she and her neighbours were satisfied the air was “normal”.
“The air is good. I have no plans to leave and my neighbours are staying, too,” she told the South China Morning Post.
A neighbour, who runs a window installation business in the village, said: “We can see blue sky and white cloud. I don’t smell anything unusual, and our daily routine is not affected.”
Environmental protection authorities did not detect chemicals such as vinylchloride, chlorine hydride, or chlorine at five monitoring points near the explosion site, Zhangjiakou municipal government said.
Air quality, including PM2.5, PM10, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide levels, was assessed as either good or excellent at about 11am on Wednesday.
No abnormalities were detected in groundwater, the municipality said.
China is in the middle a three-year review of chemical handling procedures following a series of accidents that have claimed hundreds of lives in recent years.
In August 2015, an explosion at a warehouse in Tianjin province became one of the nation’s deadliest and most destructive industrial accidents, killing 165 people and injuring 798. Eight people remain unaccounted for.
The explosion sent 129 kinds of chemicals into the environment, including 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide and other substances.
Environmental protection authorities said air pollution returned to “normal” levels a week after the blast and contamination at the explosion’s centre was under control.
Levels of cyanide as high as 356 times the safe level were detected within a 3-kilometre-radius (1.8 miles) of the blast zone, although no contamination was found outside, they said.